Sudanese authorities have announced they will end child marriage and enforce the country’s ban on female genital mutilation (FGM), in a major step forward for the rights of women and girls.
Police officers were told on Wednesday they must inform local communities that FGM is illegal following new laws passed in July that make it punishable by up to three years in jail.
“Police officers will have a major responsibility to intervene and curb this crime against humanity,” said the director general of police, Ezzeldin El Sheikh, adding that religious leaders in the largely Muslim country would play a key role in ending the practice.
The move should go some way to allay concerns the practice was so deeply entrenched in society the law could not be enforced.
According to the UN, 87% of Sudanese women have undergone FGM, which involves the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia for non-medical reasons. Girls are typically cut between the ages of just five and 14.
The council of ministers also announced this week it is to end child marriage and adopt all articles of the African charter on the rights and welfare of the child, which came into force in 1999.
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